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Mayor Turner’s second term begins

He’s on the clock now.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Freshly sworn in Thursday morning, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner promised to make significant strides in street repairs and flood control while boosting services for the city’s homeless in his second term.

He also called on private businesses and nonprofits to be more generous in their giving, saying they are crucial to helping the cash-strapped city fund his signature initiatives, including the Complete Communities neighborhood program.

“We ask financial institutions, businesses, developers, nonprofits and endowments to leverage their resources with the city and with one another to share the risks and expedite the transformation,” Turner said his inaugural speech at the Wortham Center. “Though many have stepped forward to assist, we are still missing that level of support, the investments that will serve as game-changers for those under-served communities in our city.”

Turner easily prevailed in the Dec. 14 runoff election over second-place finisher Tony Buzbee. In a post-election interview with the Chronicle, Turner promised to make transformational changes in his final term, including restructuring the fire department, accelerating the city’s permitting process and repairing streets as top priorities.

See here for some background. Turner is the first Mayor to have a four-year lame-duck term, but being in one’s last term has not been a hindrance to getting big things done in the past. Mayor Parker shepherded HERO through in 2015 (yes, that subsequently went south, but it was still passed by Council) and Mayor Brown oversaw the completion of the Main Street light rail line and the passage of the 2003 referendum that led to more light rail being built in his last year. I don’t think anyone will perceive of Mayor Turner as being in his last term until the candidates for the next Mayoral race begin to make themselves known. So barring big external events that force themselves onto the priority list (you know, like another big flood) I’d expect him to have the opportunity to get more big things done. He should have a fairly amenable Council, and at least some of the items on his list will have broad support. We’ll see how he does.

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12 Comments

  1. Jules says:

    What to watch out for: gifting of our tax dollars to developers

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    What to watch out for: 4 more years of Art Acevedo.

    Congratulations, Houston! You did it!

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    I doubt that his second term will involve his impeachment for violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964. My new city councilman, Mrs. Kamin, never knew about the voluntary compliance agreement with HUD. I ask you, how can candidates so uninformed about the city be considered legitimate candidates for city office?

    Of course the city government is a generally unhelpful clown show, and the county little better. Let someone mention a “robot brothel” and these nitwits spring into action. Meantime, the TIRZ is going to remodel Shepherd and Durham through the Greater Heights, and the federal government had to step in to charge former detective Goines with crimes that carry stiff penalties, including the death penalty. The city and county didn’t do quite enough in either of these examples.

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    @Jules, also, the developers apparently get these permits to shut down sidewalks and streets that are paid for by taxpayers. They get the permits and will profit from the buildings, yet the taxpayers get nothing.

    I like capitalism, and there is nothing wrong with some people having more money than others. But I am sick of lemon socialism, and subsidizing the wealthy. If anyone reading this is a lawyer, let me know if there is any case law regarding freedom to travel as a pedestrian. Perhaps the city can be sued.

    Mayor Turner refuses to send me his tax returns, so I can’t say if he is reporting anything on the line item for bribes, so I won’t speculate.

    By the way, I am also sick and tired of subsidizing Teslas for the wealthy to stealthily roll around.

    The city should designate a day on which Tesla owners must send thank you letters to all taxpayers.

  5. C.L. says:

    Jason, I’m confused – did you vote for Mrs. Kamin ?

  6. Jason Hochman says:

    C L, I voted for Mrs Kennedy. I read the article where Mrs Kennedy actually went out to the intersection and counted the cars that ran the stop sign. Mrs. Kamin had some Swamp Speak, about how we “will look at some study that hasn’t been done yet.” Which translates to, “I will do what my wealthy backers tell me to do, and it is not this.”

    Houston city government is a clown show. I hope I can go someplace progressive to live rather than a place mired in the 1950s ideal of car dependent sprawl, segregation, and rogue police shooting dogs and people.

    Let someone mention a “robot brothel” (which is not even an accurate description of the business) and the council jumps to action, but for public safety or environmental concerns, forget it. (Incidentally, the entire robot brothel debacle is part of their anti-male bias–the company sells an expensive sex toy targeted mainly to men–while other stores sell phallic shaped sex toys primarily for women, with no consequence.)

    When I look at the campaign finance reports for Turner, there are a lot of developers listed. He refuses to provide his tax returns. He is very Trumpian. The council should at least file the impeachment and hold it in waiting in case he starts getting frisky. That is how we progressives are keeping Trump in check.

  7. C.L. says:

    Jason, your missive sounds exactly like the missive you sent to the Editors of The Leader. You seem to be very concerned with sexbots and Sly’s tax returns…and I never thoughts I’d mention those two things in the same sentence.

  8. Ross says:

    Jason, the sidewalk/street closure permits cost money, every week. How are developers supposed to build a building if they don’t have space to access the property?

  9. Jason Hochman says:

    @Ross, do these permits cost money? I’m not so sure about that. To answer your question, in professional cities, builders have to put a cover over the sidewalks
    https://rules.cityofnewyork.us/tags/pedestrian-sidewalk-and-walkway-protection

  10. Bill Daniels says:

    Who cares if the permits cost money or not? Why would you NOT want construction that will lead to higher property taxes paid on a particular property, higher taxes that will be paid for decades?

    Are we really gonna quibble over, what, a few hundred bucks, when the property taxes generated from development make that look like the pocket change it is?

  11. Jason Hochman says:

    Bill, the construction can’t raise property taxes, because of the revenue cap, and yes, the new construction causes more flooding, more traffic, and other problems not addressed by the failed infra structure of Houston.

    Further, the blocked sidewalks make me have to zig zag across the super highway of Shepherd because the east side of Shepherd from 14th to 15th is blocked (for a year now) and the west side of Shepherd from 15th to 16th was blocked. According to the city there was a study done that these sidewalks get very little usage. But I think that the developers did the study. Plus there were people who slept on these sidewalks.

  12. Ross says:

    Jason, no one slept on those sidewalk – I go up and down Shepherd every day going to and from work, and not once have I seen a sleeper. If you really want to avoid the construction, take Dorothy on those blocks.

    Yes, the City charges for street and sidewalk closures. There’s a whole pdf with the details that you can find on the Houston permitting site.